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Plans for Cuadrilla fracking rejected by Lancashire County Council

Plans for Cuadrilla fracking rejected by Lancashire County Council
03/07/2015

Lancashire County Council has unanimously voted to abolish plans for Cuadrilla Fracking for the second time. Before the result was announced, the debate over fracking in Lancashire was a controversial issue. The prospect of thousands of oil and gas being drilled out of the rural heartlands of British countryside didn't sit well with locals. Government and industry officials argued that hydraulic fracturing, better known as 'fracking', would bring jobs, cheaper bills and security to the community.

Despite the shock result by Lancashire County Council, the decision was made with the view that a sudden 'dash for gas' would bring unacceptably high levels of noise and traffic outweighing the governments hope to create more jobs.

Shale gas company Cuadrilla had wanted to test the flow of gas following drilling at up to four exploration wells at a proposed site between Preston and Blackpool. The rejection came as a massive setback for the fracking industry, while Cuadrilla said it was 'disappointed' and 'surprised' and would consider an appeal. In this crunch week for fracking, there are urgent and controversial questions that need answering.

SHOULD THE UK EMBRACE FRACKING? Touch anything around you and you are touching products that require oil and natural gas. Air conditioning at the touch of a switch, driving a car, flying around the world, cooking food, painting your house etc. These hydrocarbons are here to stay and since we need them for the future, fracking is a less troublesome solution than importing gas. The US is now on its way to becoming energy self-sufficient, which means a huge boost for the environment, declining imports, less chance of shipping accidents and a huge reduction in capital being sent abroad.

WOULD IT BRING AN INDUSTRIALISED COUNTRYSIDE? Despite the arguable benefits of fracking, some public health officials, environmentalists and now thousands of Lancashire locals are not sure that it's worth the potential risks. Many groups have expressed concern over the damage to Lancashire's cherished countryside. The industry planned to set up two major fracking sites, both the size of four or five football pitches. The impact of these sites on the local economy would be powerful, but for the countryside the damage would be irreplaceable. Fracking needs an infrastructure, heavy lorries to bring more sand and take out water, and a pipeline for the gas. It's a battle split down the middle between those looking for an increase in the natural gas industry and locals protecting their homeland.

COULD FRACKING CREATE MORE JOBS? Everyone agrees that Britain is in need of more long term, skilled jobs. Back in 2013 the fracking industry promised to create between 70,000-150,000 new jobs for the construction, transport and mining industries. The proposition was sure to tempt with the chance to stabilise the UK economy in a time when jobs were limited. But fracking company Cuadrilla has since admitted that the 6 year project proposed in Lancashire would lead to just 11 jobs at each of the two sites. Some communities say they feel let down by the company and are disappointed that fracking will not bring jobs and financial rewards for everyone.

IS OUR WATER SAFE? This is hotly debated. The US fracking industry would argue that tens of thousands of wells have been drilled and there is not one proven case of groundwater contamination. Fracking wells are between 5,000 - 10,000 feet deep and use between 3-5 million gallons of water. The fracking fluid consists of a mixture of 98% water and sand. The remaining 2% or less contains chemical additives, most of which are used with no health risks. There's only one that can be harmful if swallowed, ethylene glycol.

The future is not looking too bright for the fracking industry. Lancashire's decision yesterday is likely just delaying all plans to deliver the fracking dream. The question remains whether Britain will learn to accept fracking as an essential solution to economic growth or find other means of developing a thriving economy.

Sources http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/aug/19/fracks-figures-big-questions-hydraulic-fracturing http://oilprice.com/Energy/Natural-Gas/The-Benefits-Of-Shale-Gas-Far-Outweigh-The-Negatives-Of-Fracking.html

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